barcelonaFor the first time in since our 12-year-old twins were born, my husband and I are taking a big trip without them.  We are in Spain. And for those of you with kids who don’t travel without them – I highly recommend it.

Traveling without the kids has allowed my husband and I to just do…whatever. No need to schedule everything so much to make sure no one gets bored. Sitting at a café for an hour watching the world go by isn’t boring to us.  It’s allowed us to eat wherever, whenever, or not at all. It’s allowed us, most importantly, to remember what it’s like to be a couple – not just part of a family.

We started in Barcelona proper, at the Condes de Barcelona, a non descript but well priced, perfectly clean, and incredibly well-located small-ish hotel in the Eixample area. From there, It’s easy to walk to luxury shopping (designer duds abound), Gaudi’s Casa Mila (pretty much across the street), the Casa Battlo (three blocks), and even Sagrada Familia, the iconic Gaudi Church is only about a 15 minute stroll away. To get to the Old City, you simply walk along the main drag – Passeig de Gracia,  for about ten minutes –  and there you are at the tip of Las Ramblas. Other major sites  – Mont Juic, the port, are all easily accessibly by the easy to navigate public transport system.

So Eixample- a great place to stay.  A bit away from the 100% touristy Bari Gotic or Ramblas where many choose to stay.

Another thing I’d recommend is a bike trip through the city.  Barcelona is quite flat and there are bike lanes everywhere. Plus, there’s something about pedaling along the streets, in the heart of traffic, on the too-narrow-for-cars Medieval streets, across a park filled with playing school children  – that makes you feel more a part of things. You’re not seeing the world from the top of a tourist bus, (although Barcelona has them, they go everywhere, and it’s a good way to get oriented). Neither are you trudging along the sidewalk, limited by the very nature of your biology to a slower pace. There’s a kid-like thrill that comes from simply mounting a bike, pushing off, and taking flight, along the boulevards, aside the beach, around the Cathedral, past the market, all alongside the locals running their errands or hurrying to a meeting on an impossibly sunny day in an impossibly lovely city by the sea.

We used Barcelona Bike Tours, and lucked out with a wonderful guide, Marc, and a small group of eight.

Even with your kids (10+) this is a great thing to do.  It’s a leisurely pace, and you cover so much ground.

Next time – more about our trip – including a stay at a beautiful castle (a real one!) in the countryside.